A voice memo from me + A digest of your favorite posts!
Thank you (Part one)
Thank you, friend!
Thank you for reading The Corners throughout 2021, for being willing to accompany me during this shit-show of a beautiful, terrible year.
And to my paid subscribers: I am so grateful that you are willing to support me and my work. I promise to not take you for granted. I strive every day to be worthy of the trust you my readers have in me and in my writing. Your support has allowed me to pivot from mainly being a public speaker (not a COVID-possible job) to staying home and writing prayers and essays, making The Confessional Podcast, opening a pop-up Chapel on-line and beginning to write a new book (on forgiveness). Additionally, all the money I would normally be paid to regularly preach and teach at Montview Presbyterian and St. John Episcopal Cathedral here in Denver, instead goes directly to support New Beginnings, the congregation I serve inside the walls of the women’s prison.
That is all YOU. You allowed this to happen and I am deeply grateful.
Throughout this last year, I have tried to be as honest as possible about what it feels like to be a human right now, and to then hold that up and view it for a moment through the prism of divine grace and see how the light bounces off.
Below is a digest of the posts you shared, liked and commented on the most the first 6 months of 2021 in case you missed or want to re-visit them. (I’ll post part 2 tomorrow)
And again, THANK YOU!
The Corners by Nadia Bolz-Weber is a reader-supported publication.
an essay for subscribers
Jan 6th, 2021
A story of 2 men -
Herod, who is a ruler on a throne of power, and Joseph who is a peasant in an unconventional marriage. One man is powerful and one man is not. And yet the text only describes one of these men as being afraid.
And it wasn’t the peasant.
(sermon starts at 15 min)
This is the beauty of our faith, not that we once were bad but now we’re good, but that Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling us out of our trances. . . The trance of self-interest. The trance of self-righteousness. The trance of self-loathing. Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling us out of the empty promises of our personal and cultural trances and into what is most true and most real – this present moment.
And part of the good news we are called to repent and believe is that there is no upper limit to the times we can return to God by changing our minds or changing our hearts or changing our direction. It is not like the three tries you have to remember your password before the system locks you out. The gates of repentance are always open.
Feb 5th, 2021
inhale. exhale. walk the dog. buy the groceries. call the friend. This is the day the Lord hath made.
And I don’t want to miss it.
Feb 28th, 2021
God, the thing is, my attempts to control myself aren’t working. I still haven’t started practicing yoga every day like I keep saying I will. Yesterday I lost my cool with a GE customer service rep. And the “Covid 19” I gained this year is not budging, for which I am merciless to myself. So I am remanding myself into your protective custody, because you are always kinder to me than I am to myself.
Help me see that it is my unfair expectations of myself and others, and not my failure to meet those expectations which is making me miserable.
March 14th, 2021
I want so badly
to hug my friends again
and laugh like hell again
and have amazing conversations again
and yet I am not sure how long I could do any of this before crying or just getting really quiet. My emotional protective gear has worn so thin, and grief just leaks out everywhere now.
I am so afraid that I will never be who I once was. And I am also afraid that I will be.
(Not to mention, I’m not entirely clear what size jeans I wear as the me I am now)
And yet, when I quiet my anxious thoughts, I start to suspect that I am now closer to the me you have always known and always loved. So help me trust that, Lord.
As things change, help us be gentle with ourselves and with each other. We are all wearing newborn skin right now.
Monthly subscriber feature
March 18th, 2021
Your question: I’ve never understood Easter.... I mean the collective unconscious belief in a person risen from the dead. Usually I avoid Easter cuz I get a really odd feeling watching people praise a risen person.I was Raised to believe that to believe in god you believe in the resurrection.... do they go hand in hand?
My opinion: People vary on this. I mean, maybe for you resurrection is just a metaphor. And that's ok. No one gets to revoke your Christian card. I happen to believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Partly because I WANT to - meaning, I LIKE how nuts it is - how radical to believe something so outrageous. Because the Gospels are almost disturbingly physical: eating with sinners, spitting into dirt to heal the blind, walking, touching, embracing, suffering, dying etc. The idea that God would decide to have a HUMAN body is so beautiful to me. So much so that I want there to be a resurrected actual body at the end - one that still bears the sacred wounds. It's less satisfying to me if at the end of all that it was just an IDEA. But in no way do I think others have to believe what I do. I truly do not.
April 4th, 2021
We are not who we were. But we do get to discover who we are. Help us not foreclose on each other. Maybe just grant us a holy curiosity for a while?
Please give me courage to trust the hope I feel right now. Save me from squandering this moment of new life. Remind me that all the fear and cynicism in the world never protects me from pain and disappointment in the way I think they will. Give us back to each other when the time is right. May we recognize you, our wounded and resurrected God, in our belly laughs and crocodile tears…and maybe … even in each other.
a sermon (for inside the women’s prison) for subscribers
April 11th, 2021
…doubting isn’t the opposite of having faith…it’s a component of having faith. Doubting can mean that we haven’t forgotten the story. Doubting means that we don’t have it figured out all on our own. But the best thing about doubting is that, I mean, at least it’s honest.
So if that’s where you are…if you are a doubter like me, then it’s ok ….but you should be prepared for something. It’s a thing I never hear people in the church talk about but I know it exists because I experience it all the time: it’s this thing I call: tests of doubt…not a tests of faith…but tests of doubt. And you should probably watch out for them.
I may occasionally wish that trying hard and winning was the primary belief of the Christian faith, or perseverance and victory, or woke tweeting and righteous indignation was the primary reality of our faith but it is, it was and it will always be Death and Resurrection – that is the primary metaphor, the primary idea, the primary key signature of the Christian faith.
Were the Christian story anything else – were it the spiritual ponzi scheme pawned off by toothy-grinned TV preachers, it would truly offer us nothing in moments like this.
But to the Spirit, it is in moments when the tomb is the darkest, when the night is the longest, when our self-sufficiency is the most useless that she is like “finally…THIS I can do something with”
Monthly subscriber feature.
May 25th, 2021
(this monthly event features my responses to questions, but also my reader’s responses to my questions and I defy you to find more thoughtful, heartfelt content than the things you Corner-dwellers say on these threads!)
My question: What is your understanding of “grace”?
Your opinion: I have always loved and used Tullian Tchividjian's explanation of grace.
Grace is a divine vulgarity that stands caution on its head. It refuses to play it safe and lay it up. Grace is recklessly generous, uncomfortably promiscuous. It doesn’t use sticks, carrots, or time cards. It doesn’t keep score. As Robert Capon puts it, “Grace works without requiring anything on our part. It’s not expensive. It’s not even cheap. It’s free.” It refuses to be controlled by our innate sense of fairness, reciprocity, and evenhandedness. It defies logic. It has nothing to do with earning, merit, or deservedness. It is opposed to what is owed. It doesn’t expect a return on investments. It is a liberating contradiction between what we deserve and what we get. Grace is unconditional acceptance given to an undeserving person by an un-obligated giver
a prayer for subscribers
June 10th, 2021
Lord, on days when I struggle with antagonism toward my own precious body, replace that contempt with your own gleaming compassion. Help me be gentle with her like you are with me.
May I forgive my own trespasses against her – the times when I underfed and over worked her, the times when I only asked endlessly of her and gave so little back. The times I spoke with such unkindness.
My dissociations. My addictions. My bizarre expectations.
Thank you God, for creating this body to experience the pleasures of this life and this Earth. Thank you for one more day of movement. Increase the grace I have toward her as we age, she and I.
Lead me not into the temptation of anti-aging products and the market’s false promises of youth and beauty. But deliver me from diet culture.
For thine is the image in which I was made and upon which improvement is impossible.
June 20th, 2021
Sinners, tax collectors, soldiers, sex workers, fisherfolk, and even lawyers. And his LAST supper was the worst. He broke bread with his friends who were just about to abandon, deny and betray him. And yet, he took bread, blessed it, broke and gave it to these total screw-ups and said “this is my body, given for you, whenever you eat of it, do this in remembrance of me.” He instituted the Eucharist by giving bread and wine to all the people who were just about to totally screw him over.
And then what does the church do in remembrance of him? – try and keep the “wrong people” from receiving the Lord’s Supper.
Some would argue it is reckless to just feed all who hunger. That the Eucharist is too sacred to just hand it over to anyone. But maybe the Eucharist is too sacred to not just hand it over to anyone.
If we are to be judged for having gotten this wrong, let it be that we sat more at the table than fewer.
Because it’s not our table.
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